Various - Swedish Progressive Sampler

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Record Heaven
Catalog Number: n/a; included with Progre
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:19:00

It's been a while since this disk was released with Issue #26 of Progression, and it is possible that they no longer have copies of the disk available. But nevertheless, that shouldn't deter you from exploring some (or all) of the bands included on the sampler; at the very least, those that we recommend.

What sampler or survey of Swedish progressive would be complete without at least these three artists: Anekdoten, Landberk, and The Flower Kings? Make that four by adding P?r Lindh Project. Which isn't to suggest that the others are small potatoes or aren't worth attention, but when one thinks of Swedish progressive music these are the same that pop up first. The defunct ?ngl?gard gets noted as a footnote like this, mainly because they did split. [Only to reunite later -ed. Dec 2005]

Elsewhere on this site, we've reviewed Landberk's Indian Summer, from which their "Dustgod" track appears here; Anekdoten's Nucleus has also already been reviewed, the title track is included here. So, that leaves 10 other Swedish artists to cover.

Last Laugh start off sounding like Landberk on "Busy", but they really have a more of metal edge, with raw and distorted guitars - except for the solo - which brings them closer to Anekdoten The vocals are a little off key, however.

Isildurs Bane's entry "The Pilot" is quite diverse. It builds slowly from quiet, chaotic noise to atmospherics (a la Pink Floyd and Rippingtons style jazz) to a more yJethro Tull like feel - down to flute mostly, I suppose - to an emotional guitar riff. Quite good stuff, and much more than just a litany of influences (or touchstones at least).

"In The Eyes Of The World," The Flower Kings' entry, is so Emerson, Lake and Palmer (circa Tarkus) influenced that you might think it was a lost track. Roine Stolt has the Greg Lake vocalisms down, even the tone. Yes, there is a slight accent. It is a rollicking tune for the most part, intricate. I can see why The Flower Kings are quite popular. There's a bit of Crimson and Yes in there, too, as I'm thinking of Steve Howe with Stolt's guitar solo. Great stuff really, as this isn't stuff either influence are making any more.

Twin Age are next with "A Sign Of My Decline" a symphonic prog piece that starts out deceptively calm and gentle. Twin Age are neo-prog along the lines of Tristan Park, Grey Lady Down, et al. Keyboard trills and swirls with a decidedly Mark Kelly (Marillion) influence. Actually, this is not bad at all - good vocalist, likable melodies - but nothing earth shatteringly original. Which could be said about the Flower Kings, too, I suppose.

Sten Sandell and Simon Steensland follow Landberk, and I didn't much care for this at all. Falling more into experimental minimalist. There is an element of blues to it, but to be honest, I thought more of the characters of Sesame Street, at the times the Cookie Monster in particular. The stringy, bouncy bass sound is kind interesting - but I just can't cotton to this one.

More to my liking is "Manuel" by Sinkadus, which starts out carnivalesque, becomes very subtle with keyboard washes beneath more keys and gentle guitar. Though the voices are a little high, and back in the mix. More like Italian prog than Swedish prog, actually, with its classical elements. Think Ezra Winston for a comparison, at least here.

Mats and Morgan are more ? I want to say psychedelic. There is certainly an element to it that could be called that. The vocals are sung in a dreamy singsong kinda way that gets a bit annoying after awhile. Actually, as often as the title is repeated, one is apt to get dizzy. Or, in other words, there's no mistaking that they like to "spin around and 'round and round." Not impressive, but quirky.

Galleon's "The Russian Ice Princess" begins with a single piano (keyboard?) refrain (that could almost be the Jeopardy game show theme), joined quickly by voice ? even when the remainder of the instruments join in, the piano notes are at the forefront. Not really a bad track, quite good - actually the way this is arranged and delivered, it has the power and oomph that Marillion had on Clutching At Straws at some points. There is a beautiful classical piano interlude - not quite up to the talents of Wakeman, but filled with the same kind of drama and expression.

Kerberos are a metal band, and their entry "Seaside Death" is okay - though the percussion is a little up in the mix, at least the cymbals are. Nothing really to distinguish it from all the other average metal or metal-esque bands out there.

We shouldn't overlook P?r Lindh Project, whose "The Cathedral - Excerpt/Gennslev's Round" is featured and who are at their usual symphonic best here. The music has some elements of ELP, mainly in Lindh's keyboards when they are harsh and percussive - but it is only one element to the sound, because they can also be very melodic and the selection ends sounding very baroque.

Last Laugh - 'Busy' (7:04) / Isildurs Bane - 'The Pilot' (5:38) , The Flower Kings - 'In The Eyes Of The World' (10:37) / Twin Age - 'A Sign Of My Decline ' (8:39) / Landberk - 'Dustgod' (5:02) / Sten Sandell & Simon Steensland - 'Song' (3:50) / Sinkadus - 'Manuel' (7:06) / Mats And Morgan - 'Spinning Around' (3:37) / Gallon - 'The Russian Ice Princess' (6:15) / Anekdoten - 'Nucleus' (5:07) / Kerberos - 'Seaside Death' (3:18) / P?r Lindh Project - 'The Cathedral - 'Excerpt-Gennslev's Round' (6:36)

Last Laugh
Isildurs Bane
The Flower Kings
Twin Age
Sten Sandell & Simon Steensland
Mats And Morgan
P?r Lindh Project


Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: February 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1446
Language: english


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